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M-mode and pulsed Doppler echocardiography, cardiotocography and transabdominal fetal ECG are available in clinical practice to monitor fetal cardiac activity during advancing gestation, but none of these methods allows the direct measurement of morphological and temporal parameters for fetal rhythm assessment. Fetal magnetocardiograms (fMCGs) are noninvasive recordings of magnetic field variations associated with electrical activity of the fetal heart obtained with superconducting sensors positioned over the maternal abdomen inside a shielded room. Because of maternal cardiac activity, fMCGs are contaminated by maternal components that need to be eliminated to reconstruct fetal cardiac traces. The aim of the present work was to use two methods working in the time domain, an independent component analysis algorithm (FastICA) and an adaptive maternal beat subtraction technique (AMBS), for the retrieval of fetal cardiac signals from fMCGs. Detection rates of both methods were calculated, and FastICA and AMBS performances were compared in the context of clinical applications by estimating several temporal and morphological characteristics of the retrieved fetal traces, such as the shape and duration P-QRS-T waves, arrhythmic beat detection and classification, and noise reduction. Quantitative and qualitative comparison produced figures that always suggested that FastICA was superior to AMBS from the perspective of clinical use of the recovered fetal signals.


Journal article


Physiol Meas

Publication Date





1305 - 1321


Adult, Algorithms, Arrhythmias, Cardiac, Artifacts, Electromagnetic Fields, Electrophysiology, Female, Heart Rate, Fetal, Humans, Pregnancy, Prenatal Diagnosis, Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted